Many hymns, statements of faith, are borne out of tragedy. Most often they are not tragic encounters of what has happened in the past but beacons calling those who sing them forward, with hope, into the future. Hymns like Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art have deeply touching stories as does one of my favorites When Peace Like a River with the familiar refrain, “it is well with my soul.”
In our stressed times our faith is formed. Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) lost his 5 children to scarlet fever and a ship’s sinking, as well as his accumulated fortune during the Chicago Fire. Yet he penned these faith-filled words:
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrow like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blest assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And has shed his own blood for my soul.
He lives---oh the bliss of this wonderous thought
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to his cross and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord O my soul!
Lord hasten the day when our faith will be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trumpet shall sound, and the Lord shall descend;
Even so it is well with my soul.
This is an old hymn with contemporary impact. It is only in distress that I find the depth of my faith. I do not want difficulty or trouble, loss, or despair in life, but when it comes—as it will come—then comes the help I could not see before. People each out, sometimes strangers, and I move into the future different from the past. Can I always say, “it is well with my soul?” no not always, at least not right away. But by allowing ourselves to be reordered, care, love, and support comes and hope returns.
“We are all just walking each other home in life” as Ram Dass has said. As we continue to do this, in whatever condition or situation we find ourselves, then indeed “it is well, it is well, with my (our) souls!”
Lord, attend my soul and assure me “it is well.” Amen